Research from the past century has claimed empirical support for many different hypotheses–that men and women are fundamentally different because of biological reasons; that social influences (cultural factors) are the cause of male-female differences; and that men and women are not very psychologically different at all. Literature reviews and meta-analyses attempt to parse the truth by identifying in research alpha bias, which is the tendency to exaggerate differences, and beta bias, which is the tendency to minimize differences.
Central to an examination of alpha and beta bias related to gender is a concept called androcentrism. This term refers to the practice of placing masculinity or the male gender at the center of a worldview, thus rendering it the “norm.” Feminine or other gender perspectives become, by definition, “other.” Androcentrism may be unconsciously incorporated as the paradigm through which perceptions and judgments are made, influencing research when subtle biases of the researchers or research designs go undetected.
In this Discussion, you will explore potential causes and effects of alpha and beta errors and their impact on research related to gender.
· Take the Gender Traits Test in this week’s Learning Resources and reflect on your results.
· Based on the results and on information presented in this week’s Learning Resources, think about how these results may minimize or exaggerate differences between masculine and feminine traits. Examine Figure 4.1 in your course text for a visual representation of the distribution of differences.
By Day 4
Post an explanation regarding how assessments such as the Gender Traits Test relate to alpha and beta errors. Does this type of assessment overemphasize or minimize differences between masculine and feminine traits? What possible impact might this type of assessment have on research related to gender? (Note: You should not disclose your own test score.)
Readings for this week discussion question; Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
Chapter 4, “Sex-Related Comparisons: Observations” (pp. 121–154)
Hare-Mustin, R. T., & Marecek, J. (1987, August). Gender and the meaning of difference: Alpha and beta bias. In R.T. Hare-Mustin & J. Maracek (Chairs), The future of difference: Representations of gender in psychology. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, New York, NY. Symposium contribution retrieved from the ERIC database (Accession No. ED292002).
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